Since 2010, the HIV Young Leaders Fund strives to reach youth populations that are left behind. We are committed to strengthening the role of youth affected by HIV in decision-making spaces at all levels.
For HYLF, the International day of Youth is the perfect moment to commemorate those who still lack access to health care and those whose rights are still neglected just for being who they are and loving who they want. We stand strong to raise our voices to continue sharing knowledge and resources with those young leaders who are showing us the path to the end of AIDS.
From Asia to Latin America we have witnessed the power of believing in Youth. From Africa to Eastern Europe we have experienced the power of investing in youth-led initiatives, and we will continue until young people affected by HIV and living with HIV have fulfilling healthy lives.
This International Youth Day is a day to recognize that greater efforts are needed to ensure that young people living with HIV and youth affected by HIV are not forgotten, especially those who international agencies and organizations refuse to recognize. We need effective actions and partnerships to create enabling and safe environments for all youth around the world, especially for young people under eighteen engaged in selling sex.
– In 2013, an estimated 4.96 million people aged 10–24 years were living with HIV, and young people aged 15–24 years accounted for 35% of all new infections worldwide in people over 15 years old.
– Globally, 15% of all women living with HIV aged 15 years and older are young women 15–24 years old. Of these, 80% live in sub-Saharan Africa. In this region, women acquire HIV infection at least 5–7 years earlier than men.
– Almost 1000 young women are newly infected with HIV every day.
– In Latin America, at least one-third of new infections occurs among young people aged 15–24 years.
– In many countries in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, people must be 18 or older to access harm reduction services or to participate in surveys focused on HIV-related behavior.
– 75 countries criminalize same-sex acts. Criminalizing laws fuel the stigma and discrimination that LGBTQ youth experience in their daily lives, including major barriers to access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support.
– In 2015, still many countries and International Organizations do not generate enough data related to the social determinants of health of adolescents and young key populations due to conservative perspectives and lack of political will.
Youth deserve better, let’s leave no one behind!
Pablo T. Aguilera
Executive Director – HYLF